Feed a Family

June Highlights

Living into the reality of food insecurity beyond the Covid-19 has proved stressful for countless families in Aotearoa. It has negatively impacted wellbeing in a number of areas including mental and physical health, relationships, workforce opportunities and educational achievement. Over the past few months, the Auckland Vinnies operations have been inundated with requests for food support. This need was already growing exponentially prior to the lockdown as the number of New Zealander’s experiencing food insecurity has increased. 

The effects of Covid-19 has amplified existing challenges – particularly those pertaining availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited the ability to acquire personally acceptable foods that meet cultural needs in a socially acceptable way. In seeking to meet these varying needs, the team have worked tirelessly alongside a dedicated team of volunteers, supply partners, health professionals, budgeters, social workers and administrators. Through many conversations and check-ins, the insights gained have reaffirmed that food insecurity emerges from a complex range of causes including low wages and housing costs.

In the wake of level four on the pandemic scale, the unfolding situation has highlighted the challenges to addressing food security. Over the space of a few days, many regional support networks, local redistribution projects and community hubs became inaccessible. Those without food and the means to provide it found themselves in disarray as the lockdown required families to remain indoors. A number of support providers were ill-equipped to sustain a similar, if not more enhanced degree of care during the lockdown. It was evident that severe food insecurity impacted thousands of families across Auckland alone, with many more requiring ongoing support as we continue to navigate level one. The degree to which these numbers reduce, and more importantly, the degree to which families are supported is unlikely to be influenced without substantial intervention.

As schools, local foodbanks and community spaces reopened in level two, this allowed for regions to reassess needs and redirect resources. A space was created for connections to be nurtured and for stories to be shared. The growing community awareness spurred many into action. Of note were local schools that took the lead in supporting families in need. Principal Michele Mill of St Joseph’s School in Otahuhu and Fr Martin Wu of St Joseph’s Parish were two such people who have been working diligently to ensure those in their care do not go without.

Additionally, students from McAuley High School, St Joseph’s Otahuhu school and Parish volunteers mobilised to bottle and prepare thousands of bottles of handsoap for redistribution to families. During the lockdown, St Peters College donated several pallets of hampers and food that were meant for their Annual Fair which was cancelled in the wake of the pandemic. These were redistributed to families and the elderly who sought assistance from Vinnies. Students from St Peter’s, as well as Auckland Normal Intermediate School Mt Eden also ran a school wide food drive at level one, sourcing several boxes of canned goods to donate to the Vinnies Foodbank. A group of Vinnies from St Cuthbert’s College and Sancta Maria College have faithfully dedicated time after school to help sort and stock donations, ready for the following day. Each of these collectives took the time to reflect upon food insecurity, as well as their call to grow awareness and consider more importantly the relationships they hold with the wider community.

The Auckland operations have been fortunate to have a strong volunteer base who have shown up in the early waking hours of the day to ensure families are fed. The Ignite whānau, various youth groups and affiliated partners bulk pack hundreds of parcels each day to cover demand. The many hands and moments of laughter made for light work as these young men and women bonded through service. A significant number of these individuals worked throughout the lockdown as packers, stackers and drivers for the food parcels. Their hard work did not go unnoticed, and the impact it has had on families across Auckland was felt across the communities in which they served. Throughout the lockdown, numerous families coordinated foodbank satellite services across Auckland. That is, provided localised support to those in need so as to ease the logistical processes of the central hub. These families have been pivotal in creating a sense of whanaungatanga (relationship building) through face to face interactions. Relationships are core to the Vinnies service ethos, as this is what upholds the dignity of those whom they serve through meaningful, sustained connections.

A core team of individuals came together without knowing one another during the lockdown, in the hopes of working the phone lines so that families are heard, and their needs are met. The collective saw a need that was not being met, and thanks to their hardwork the Vinnies team were able to provide a stronger, more informed service to families. In particular, they checked in on isolated elderly whānau who requested regular phone calls. These services were much needed, particularly as a way to navigate restrictions on physical distancing without compromising the relational aspect of service provision.

Core phoneline volunteers

Door to door delivery has also been supported, including those in need within local caravan parks. The team have been fortunate to work alongside dedicated students such as those from Liston College who ensure distribution is streamlined. The Vinnies team have been proactive in organising themselves – from assessing needs, to donations, and packing and distributing food parcels that provide nutritional sustenance. 

There have been many moments of joy, laughter as well as moments that have brought tears and wonder. While the journey ahead is uncertain, the Vinnies team are mindful that there lies an opportunity to deeply reflect and bring about a positive contribution to the lives of those whom they serve. Through collaboration and journeying alongside one another, the Vinnies team therefore seeks to acknowledge and address food insecurity as experienced by people; whilst acknowledging and addressing that food insecurity is a facet of lived experience driven by systems. 


Feed a Family

May Highlights

A Community That Cares

Thousands of families sought support from The Society of St Vincent Paul foodbank in the Auckland region amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. It has meant numerous situations in which families have insufficient food to live, difficulties in acquiring sufficient food, and increases in social marginalization during isolation. The primary driver of food insecurity within Aotearoa continues to be economic insufficiency, as families in low-income brackets are increasingly unable to afford nutritional sources of food. 

Throughout the Auckland region there were over 60 essential service volunteer drivers who signed up to support the Vinnies Auckland COVID-19 Response Foodbank Operation. These young men and women would operate from ‘satellite foodbanks’ to provide direct, local support to their communities. During the pandemic, the Vinnies team connected with families who, through no fault of their own, were without work and pay; or restricted from seeking support from extended family, friends or neighbours. Over time, it was found that this exhausted social support networks; often leaving families even more isolated during lockdown. A dedicated team of volunteers took up the responsibility of manaakitanga (support) through regular phone call check-ins to ensure families felt safe and held during these trying times. 

It was evident through the stories of those who sought assistance that there were manifestations of hardship, tension and distress. In being present to these important expressions of vulnerability, it is telling that these issues are not independent of one another. To do so would obscure broader structural issues such as low wages, insecure work, inadequate and expensive housing as well as welfare retrenchment. The Society is deeply grateful for the ongoing support of organisations such as the Ministry For Primary Industries, Kiwi Harvest as well as generous families who have been able to donate bulk supplies of food to top up much needed foodparcels for families in need. Fresh produce in particular became a significant addition to families who could not access supermarkets or nearby shops during the lockdown period.

Food insecurity, therefore, is not an isolated phenomenon, but is very much intertwined with a wider range of insecurities and pressures on families. The combined efforts of volunteers and staff have proved invaluable in this instance to bolster the relational and charitable aid available to families. It has also allowed families to access necessary support networks so as to access sustainable sources of food.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul acknowledges the many men and women who dedicated their time throughout the lockdown to procure, pack and deliver foodboxes; coordinate foodbank satellites, donate, pray, manage administration and fundraising receipts as well as make the phone calls and emails to families needing check ins. Prior to the lockdown, the Auckland Operations were providing 120 food boxes a week. Since the COVID-19 lockdown, we have averaging 120 per day and to date have distributed well over 5,000 food boxes to families. The need is growing every day. While the pandemic has been a challenge in ways that have often been unseen, it has been deeply moving to observe a community that has come together to support one another.


Feed a Family

April Highlights

Responding to Families in Need

We would like to share with you how Vinnies Youth Auckland have mobilised and sought to support families affected by COVID-19 with food boxes and other essential needs. Prior to the pandemic, we were providing 120 food boxes a week. Since the COVID-19 lockdown, we have averaging 120 per day and to date have distributed well over 5,000 food boxes to families. The need is growing every day.


Hundreds of families across Auckland continue to bear the burdened reality of food insecurity in light of Covid-19. For many, this reality was being experienced long before the pandemic was realised in Aotearoa. Self-isolation has only added to its effects. The lockdown and disruptions in work, family relations and community support have shown the fragility of people’s access to essential food and services. The Society of St Vincent de Paul continue to see the effects of lost income related to accessing food, with many families informing us that they are unable to afford sufficient food due to limited financial resources.

Families are writing and ringing in through the night and early hours of the morning. The foodboxes provided are valued at $120 each and are personally delivered to their front doors by the strong team of about 30 Vinnies volunteer drivers. we are fortunate to have the assistance of Kiwharvest and Auckland Citymission food donations that allow us to supplement the foodboxes with extra food to cut costs and allow the re-allocation of money to the purchase of more bulk food supplies in.


We are grateful for the Auckland Catholic Diocese for their monetary support and also to MSD for supplementing some our Foodbank costs. To date VINNIES auckland have delivered food to over 1,500 families struggling as a result of the COVID-19 Lockdown. We know that in weeks to come this number will only increase as people live into unemployment, social isolation, and the temporary closing of many social services support networks. There has also been an increase in cases of domestic violence as well an increase of stress, anxiety and the break down of wellbeing including mental health.

This has necessitated a change in the way families are supported at this time. Not only do families need food at this time, they also need reassurance and journeying alongside. Many volunteers from various professional backgrounds have stepped up to lend a hand. From budgeters, social workers, dedicated phone operators; to packers, distributors and food bank operators, these young men and women are able to support hundreds of families across Auckland each day. Many have given their time and energy into ensuring families do not go without during the pandemic – the facility operating up to twelve hours a day, six days a week. The Society of St Vincent de Paul are thankful for these gifted, professional and enthusiastic team members.


A Vinnies foodbank essential worker reflects:

“It was  getting dark as more people lined the road some pushing up to the truck with outstretched hands asking for a box of food….”Today we went into a large caravan park with a convoy of two Vinnies foodtrucks and a car to deliver large foodboxes of fresh produce, meat, milk, cereal, yoghurt etc to over 240 flat units and caravans where families and individuals lived.We were told there was a huge need in that place and many were not able to access food support as many had become accustomed to putting up with not having much. Many didn’t have the resilience or resource to seek support. Many were marginalized and socially excluded. Not having transport or wifi or credit or ability to read and write, or the confidence to ring an 0800 helpline became a huge obstacle. Our vehicles moved slowly on two different routes and stopped intermittently as team members on the back  worked hard to unload and distribute parcels to each unit with the park management. It was getting dark as more people lined the road some pushing up to the truck with outstretched hands asking for a box. We had to ask many a time that they please move back.”

“It was heart breaking to see many of these people were elderly and some seemed quite physically unwell. We weren’t allowed to hand the boxes over for safety reasons but they were determined for fear of missing out.Some tried to lift the heavy 12kg+ boxes out of our arms to be helpful. Other succeeded others didn’t.  I became conscious that several people had touched my arms and were right in my face even though I was wearing PPE gear. Others so grateful wanted to shake hands or pat me on the back. It was surreal. It was like a scene from the movies.We ended up having to run and carry the boxes to quite a few houses as the occupants were too old or too frail and it was safe for us to do so to keep the distance. It was a major workout and we were puffing hard with faces dripping with sweat trying to keep up with it all.When we finally finished I came away feeling quite sad and wanting to cry, confused, angry and affected by what I had just experienced and seen…also fired up, and full of empathy, compassion and hope for these people and my team members. I was also grateful for my family and what I have…Lord I’m out of my depth …show me the way”


Feed a Family

The demand for food support continues to grow each week to around 650

Families are writing and ringing in through the night and early hours of the morning. The foodboxes provided are valued at $120 each and are personally delivered to their front doors by the strong team of around 30 Vinnies volunteer drivers. We are fortunate to have the assistance of Kiwharvest and Auckland Citymission food donations that allow us to supplement the foodboxes with extra food to cut costs and allow the re-allocation of money to the purchase of more bulk food supplies in.


We are grateful for the Auckland Catjolic Diocese for their monetary support and also to MSD for supplementing some our Foodbank costs. To date Auckland Vinnies have delivered food to over 1,500 families struggling as a result of the COVID-19 Lockdown. We know that in the weeks to come this number will only increase as people live into unemployment , social isolation, and the temporary closing of many social services support networks. there is also the increase of domestic violence and the increase of stress, anxiety and the break down of  mental health.

Feed a Family

March Highlights

We Are in This Together

As the lockdown continues amidst the global pandemic caused by covid-19, families are balancing the roles of helping to prevent disease transmission whilst also ensuring there is enough food to put on the table. A number of foodbanks run by various non-for profit collectives have closed across the country since the lockdown announcement. Foodbanks such as those operated by Auckland Society of St Vincent de Paul branches have been working overtime to keep families fed during the covid-19 pandemic. In response to this, a number of young adults have stepped up to offer any support they can. In anticipation of the growing need within the community, bulk chillers and freezers were connected and made ready for the incoming bulk food for the Vinnies foodbank. Between receiving stock, organising the foodbank and preparing logistics, these men and women would find time to fill in foodparcel requests for the Auck CBD, wider community areas as well as family lists from Social workers.

 The realities of the covid-19 have been realised none more so than in our communities. Amidst calls to ensure the health and safety of families across the country, food has become even more important as both comfort and source of nutrition during this time of grief and healing. The unfolding of the lockdown has since called into question how Aotearoa as a nation might be able to ward off a food crisis that is pandemic-related. In response to this, young adults have been operating Foodbank Satellites from their homes all over Auckland. The bulk stock is dropped off to their homes and they are given lists of deliveries in their local area. Within the last few weeks alone there has been a steep surge in requests coming in from families needing support. This has meant an increase of teams and added precautions around social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing and sterilizing. The team of staff and volunteers have been working around the clock to process orders and pack boxes to meet the demand.

Health and wellbeing is influenced heavily by what and how we eat. The ability to consume food that is nutritional and accessible has become undermined by the intertwining of numerous realities. The reality for many families is that job security has been shaken, and in some cases rendered absent altogether. There are utility payments that still need to be paid. There are growing health care needs amongst those who live in homes with poor insulation. There are those who have isolated themselves in sickness with little to no access to support. While food is a significant need, many families have sorely missed the opportunities for face to face conversations or having someone there to hear their story.

The Auckland Vinnies team recognise that now, more than ever, solidarity, compassion and prayers will be what builds resilience against food insecurity. It is well known amongst the staff and volunteers of SVdP that upholding dignity through meaningful relationships will be key to ensuring that families do not go without during their time of need.


Feed A Family – The Team in Action

Supporting families during this time would not be possible without the compassion and determination of the SVdP volunteers and staff. From handling referals, to packing/restocking and deliveries, these men and women have helped ensure the community feels held and safe.

Feed a Family

Feed A Family

Feed A Family is programme facilitated by the Auckland St Vincent de Paul Centre in Newton that seeks to raise awareness and respond to Food Insecurity.


The programme has differing components and services such as:

1. Kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) and building trust as well as connections with those seeking support and with local advocates.

2. Response: Understanding, advocacy and referral. Support is achieved through practical help and the provision of food boxes which include nutritious cooked meals.

3. Building of Relationships: with those seeking support, other social service providers, school communities, local parishes and donors.

4. Education and Awareness: Sharing the stories and factual information in colleges, church communities and local communities through presentations and mulitmedia.

5. Fundraising and sponsorship:  Winter and Christmas Appeals to support families in need.

6. Feed A Family youth food projects: Launching of canned food collections, Cooking projects etc.

Each of these services and opportunities to assist are offered in the hope of bringing our communities closer together, as we are reminded by the Gospels that we are also called to God through our care of one another.


Feed A Family – Pandemic Response

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a steep surge in requests arising from families needing support.

The Vinnies Covid-19 Response team have heard and seen first-hand some of the extreme impoverished situations that people are facing since the Covid-19 Lockdown. The response team have connected with hundreds of vulnerable, struggling families and individuals over the past two weeks. One in particular shared:

“It was a real eye opener dropping off food to a tent in the middle of a deserted car lot… I dropped off 3 parcels to one address, I was confused and thinking someone was trying to take advantage of the free food. Boy was I wrong! I was really wrong. One foodbox went to the basement where the grandmother was isolating with a teenager, one to the back shed where a older siblings teenagers and babies were, and the last to the carport tent where the dad was. It was cold, there was not enough blankets and beds. They had a makeshift cooking arrangment outside that did not look safe. They were all trying to isolate and were quite stressed because nappies and formula had run out and their wasn’t enough food. Thank God their neighbour who had phone credit rang on their behalf…”

NOTE: SVdP has since referred these families to Social services to be housed and they are being moved into more suitable accomodation. The SVdP response team will continue to support them with food, other resources and connect in with them regularly.

As the SVdP response team continues to support families in need, they are mindful that they cannot do it alone. We have heard your enquiries about practical ways to support us, and have outlined below the best ways how:

1) Monetary Donations
Soc of St Vincent De Paul AK 12-3017-0500224-00
Particulars: Your last name
Reference: Covid-19

2) Countdown or Pak’n Save vouchers

To request a tax receipt please email:
feedafamily@stvinnies.co.nz

For any enquiries please email:
del@stvinnies.co.nz


Vinnies News Weekly

March Highlights

Reflecting, Serving & Connecting

At the beginning of this school term, students from across Auckland put their hands up and said ‘YES’ to upholding the dignity of their community members through meaningful service. In many cases they mobilised their peers and wider student body, engaging in challenging conversations around food insecurity, homelessness, incarceration and social exclusion.

Prior to the lockdown, a number of schools took their learning to the next level and partipated in bulk cooking programmes for families in need. This entailed preparing large amounts of nutritionous meals to accompany food parcels for families and individuals in need. The colleges of De La Salle, Rosmini and Carmel were among the first to begin this work of service, contributing a significant amount of time aside from their studies to ensure less people go hungry.

The students of Baradene College also sought to make a difference for families; organising a school wide food drive. Over $5,000 worth of non perishable food items were donated. Prior to the lockdown, this provided a much needed boost for foodbanks across Auckland.

Each of these works of service proved immensely pivotal with getting students connected to their communities. Amidst the realities of the current Covid-19 lockdown, these young men and women were able to faithfully support those struggling to make ends meet. Their enthusiasm and eagerness to serve left an impression on the Auckland Vinnies team, who have continued the journey of service up to now.


We Are in This Together

As the lockdown continues amidst the global pandemic caused by covid-19, families are balancing the roles of helping to prevent disease transmission whilst also ensuring there is enough food to put on the table. A number of foodbanks run by various non-for profit collectives have closed across the country since the lockdown announcement. Foodbanks such as those operated by Auckland Society of St Vincent de Paul branches have been working overtime to keep families fed during the covid-19 pandemic. In response to this, a number of young adults have stepped up to offer any support they can. In anticipation of the growing need within the community, bulk chillers and freezers were connected and made ready for the incoming bulk food for the Vinnies foodbank. Between receiving stock, organising the foodbank and preparing logistics, these men and women would find time to fill in foodparcel requests for the Auck CBD, wider community areas as well as family lists from Social workers.

 The realities of the covid-19 have been realised none more so than in our communities. Amidst calls to ensure the health and safety of families across the country, food has become even more important as both comfort and source of nutrition during this time of grief and healing. The unfolding of the lockdown has since called into question how Aotearoa as a nation might be able to ward off a food crisis that is pandemic-related. In response to this, young adults have been operating Foodbank Satellites from their homes all over Auckland. The bulk stock is dropped off to their homes and they are given lists of deliveries in their local area. Within the last few weeks alone there has been a steep surge in requests coming in from families needing support. This has meant an increase of teams and added precautions around social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing and sterilizing. The team of staff and volunteers have been working around the clock to process orders and pack boxes to meet the demand.

Health and wellbeing is influenced heavily by what and how we eat. The ability to consume food that is nutritional and accessible has become undermined by the intertwining of numerous realities. The reality for many families is that job security has been shaken, and in some cases rendered absent altogether. There are utility payments that still need to be paid. There are growing health care needs amongst those who live in homes with poor insulation. There are those who have isolated themselves in sickness with little to no access to support. While food is a significant need, many families have sorely missed the opportunities for face to face conversations or having someone there to hear their story.

The Auckland Vinnies team recognise that now, more than ever, solidarity, compassion and prayers will be what builds resilience against food insecurity. It is well known amongst the staff and volunteers of SVdP that upholding dignity through meaningful relationships will be key to ensuring that families do not go without during their time of need.


Vinnies News Weekly

February Highlights

The Gift of Whanaungatanga

Whanaungatanga is about building long-lasting relationships. It also about whānau and communities working together. This allows for collectives to make decisions and act in ways that support sustainable growth. At the Society of St Vincent de Paul centre in Auckland Central, the new space has allowed for new connections to be made and nurtured. Alongside having a foodbank and advocacy hub, the facility has created opportunities for hospitality, both for those in need as well as those who volunteer. In Auckland we are fortunate to have such a diverse and talented volunteer base. This is further strengthened by the countless leaders, mentors and wider family groups who continue to support the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Across all age groups, these individuals have been the back-bone of the Society; assisting those who are homeless, those who are incarcerated, those who are elderly and isolated, the hungry and the marginalised. Recently, a number of volunteers from across the high school and tertiary programmes in particular gathered for an evening of whanaungatanga, so as to share in the joys of their service and bring together their experiences. The Society is grateful for these amazing people who live out kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) connections.

Secondary School & Tertiary Programme Volunteers
Sisters of St Joseph with Vinnies Centre Staff

Students Leading the Way in their Communities

As part of the Secondary Schools programme, emphasis is placed on giving students as much opportunity to develop their leadership skills as possible. The Auckland Vinnies Youth Team also recognise that these are some of the most important years for student volunteers. The invitation therefore is to sustain programmes which are thought-provoking, meaningful and fun. In essense, it is about providing the tools for these young men and women to navigate their service and faith journeys together. It has been insightful connecting in with student leaders from across Auckland recently, as they have varying hopes and needs for the year ahead. There is a sense of excitement as they lay out their plans for service within the community; laughter as they consider how to live into their roles amidst school work and other commitments. Irrespective of where they are placed for the year, there is an underlying hope that they will complete 2020 with a greater understanding of the communities in need as well as their call to support.


Earlier in the month, the Auckland Vinnies Youth Team had the opportunity to meet up with the entire Year 12 student cohort of Marist College. It was moving to lead a session on Catholic Social Teaching within a space brimming with passionate students. The purpose of this visit was to bring to life the ways in which the Society of St Vincent de Paul practice these teachings. It was also an opportunity for students to assess how they understand needs within the community and how they inform the decisions they make around assistance.


Sharing a Meal with the Community

Auckland City Mission is a hub in the heart of the city, providing a source of support for those without a home, those with addictions and those struggling to put food on the table. In 2019 alone City Mission distributed 23,000 emergency food parcels to families and individuals in desperate need. They were able to house over 50 people through housing first, provide 17,000 medical consultations to vulnerable, high-needs patients; and admit 354 people to residential drug & alcohol detoxification. At the centre of their services is a recognition of peoples dignity and the significance of compassionate care. The Society of St Vincent de Paul is grateful for the opportunity to journey alongside other organisations that support the community. The tuesday night shared meal for wahine continues to run strong, with many volunteers from the Society taking part. This is a space for women to cook a hearty dinner and connect in with other women who do not have a place to call home. It is the spirit of conversation and sharing stories that make these mealtimes so memorable.


Experiential Learning Through Service

The Society of St Vincent de Paul recognise the importance of seeing a need, reflecting on how to address it and acting in a way that upholds the dignity of people at all stages. By providing a space for new volunteers to learn what service looks like, this has brought forth a wealth of knowledge in terms of culture, servant leadership, and vulnerability. The Vinnies Centre in Auckland Central has been fortunate to host a number of groups seeking to learn about the community and the significance of leadership. Unibound assisted the Vinnies Centre staff with making bulk food parcels as well as packing and sorting care packs. Throughout these processes, the prospective students learn about the needs of the community and why these services are so important.


Journeying with Those who are Incarcerated

Volunteering at Mt Eden Corrections facility has provided an insightful experience for those involved. Operating at almost full capacity, over 1,000 people are currently incarcerated at this facility. Though the chaplaincy volunteers do not get to meet all of these individuals, they seek to create meaningful encounters with those whom they serve. Regardless of where the offender or victim has come from, each has their own story from which they may gain wisdom from. Taking place on a fortnightly basis, the volunteers involved lead a liturgy of the word; providing a space for sharing in kōrero (conversation) and waiata (song). These experiences are significant as they provide an opportunity for reflection and compassionate understanding. Yvonne, a key leader of the Vinnies volunteers has been serving in this ministry for over five years. Prior to this, she has led the way in countless other ministries and youth groups. Her care and compassion has inspired many other volunteers and has especially had a significant influence on those who are in prison. It with sadness that Yvonne has since moved abroad for the next chapter of her journey. The Society of St Vincent de Paul recognises her contribution to the community and wishes her the best in the years to come.


Feed a Family

February Highlights

The Feed a Family Story

The vision for the Feed A Family appeal was initiated in 2015 by the foodbank staff and youth team of St Vincent de Paul of Kingsland Centre. With the rise in ‘food insecurity’ and the growing awareness that this was an invisible issue which needed to be addressed.

After much discussion it was understood that people impacted by food insecurity, those providing foodbank services as well as those who wanted to assist needed to come together. There needed to be ongoing face to face connections so as to grow in understanding and propose a way forward together. What unfolded over time was a comprehensible awareness educational programme for Vinnies in Catholic secondary schools. These shed light on systemic drivers of food insecurity and the stories of those affected.

Today this food Insecurity programme – Feed A Family is facilitated in 15 Catholic colleges in Auckland. As a response to this kaupapa, students and staff learn about the stories of those affected. They also learn about the causes of food insecurity before mobilising their school to collect food. This is then distributed to families seeking support from foodbanks.

In addition to this, students are also invited to volunteer in Vinnies centres so to get an integrated experience of what happens behind the scenes in order to alleviate poverty. The students are also invited to take part in the cooking of bulk nutritious meals to give to those who simply do not have the means, ability or resources to cook them. This part of the programme was a direct response to families and individuals sharing stories about the challenges of accessing cooked nutritious meals. Often the places these families were housed in either did not have adequate cooking facilities, insufficient funds, stress, time pressures as well as ill health.

In 2017 another part of this Feed A Family programme was been rolled out in the central Auckland Catholic parishes through the Winter and Christmas Feed A Family Appeal. Through this appeal, the stories of those afflicted are shared during Mass and an invitation is given out to parishioners to accompany a family through prayers. They are also invited to support through the sponsoring of a foodbox for the week or a month.

Each of these services and opportunities to assist are offered in the hope of bringing our communities closer together, as we are reminded by the Gospels that we are also called to God through our care of one another.


KiwiHarvest Lending a Helping Hand

The Society of St Vincent are grateful recipients of KiwiHarvest, a non-for-profit organisation that specialises in redistributing fresh food produce that might otherwise be thrown in for waste. These quality sources of food have proven invaluable to the formation of food parcels, as the items are nutritional and sustainable. These provide a welcome respite for families who might otherwise receive canned or non-perishable items for the majority of their foodparcels. When coupled with the donations of the ‘Feed a Family’ appeal this ensures that meals are both healthy and filling.


Accompanying and Supporting Families

In the last year over 5,000 people were supported through the provision of food parcels and budgeting advice. These come at an important time for many, particularly those who struggle to find where their next meal will come from. Often those who seek support from the Society of St Vincent de Paul are those who encounter an unexpected setback. Through the donations of the ‘Feed A Family’ appeal, food becomes one less thing for families to worry about. By redirecting money from groceries to other costs such as utilities and debt, families are able to get a stronger foothold on living costs. A number of volunteers and staff work hard to ensure that families are receiving quality food parcel and referral assistance. Each food parcel contains a mix of nutritional, easy to cook ingredients including fruit, vege and meat produce. The donations towards the appeal are significant in the sense that families are able to create meals which are healthy and positively contribute to their wellbeing. 


Sharing a Meal with the Community

Auckland City Mission is a hub in the heart of the city, providing a source of support for those without a home, those with addictions and those struggling to put food on the table. In 2019 alone City Mission distributed 23,000 emergency food parcels to families and individuals in desperate need. They were able to house over 50 people through housing first, provide 17,000 medical consultations to vulnerable, high-needs patients; and admit 354 people to residential drug & alcohol detoxification. At the centre of their services is a recognition of peoples dignity and the significance of compassionate care. The Society of St Vincent de Paul is grateful for the opportunity to journey alongside other organisations that support the community. The tuesday night shared meal for wahine continues to run strong, with many volunteers from the Society taking part. This is a space for women to cook a hearty dinner and connect in with other women who do not have a place to call home. It is the spirit of conversation and sharing stories that make these mealtimes so memorable. 

Auckland City Mission
Vinnies News Weekly

January Highlights

For Wāhine, by Wāhine

To bring about connection through face to face and a safe space for wahine to gather over the kitchen table for a home cooked meal. There is also the concern for food and nutrition security for all people, there has been a call for more effective and equitable food assistance; particularly for women in need within Auckland.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul, the Auckland Citymission, Salvation Army amongst many other Charitable organisations works hard to achieve this through their different community programmes. 

Last September ,the Vinnies collaborated with the Auckland Citymission leaders and members of Te Miringa Trust to roll out a new initiative to care for the wahine who need a safe space to gather, have nutritious kai and have face to face conversations.

As part of the new initiative,the female volunteers from Vinnies and Te Miringa Trust volunteer alternatively every Tuesday to provide manakitanga (hospitality) through the preparing of and sharing of a three course  evening dinner. The venue is provided by Auckland City Mission, who also provide the kitchen facilities and the food to prepare. Over the weeks the numbers of participants have steadily increased from four to around fourty. The feedback has been very positive and there is an expectation that these numbers will continue to increase steadily.

The simple act of sharing in a dinner breaks down barriers and provides an opportunity for new connections to be made. In this safe and positive environment, the Vinnies Youth Volunteers continue to nurture deep and meaningful relationships with those present. This weekly project will continue to unfold over the coming year.


Caring for Those Who are Incarcerated

Each year over nine thousand people pass through the Auckland prisons. Within Mt Eden Corrections Facility alone, there are currently 1,040 men who are incarcerated. This number is expected to increase in the coming months as the new prison wings are opened for use following a facility upgrade in 2019. Regardless of the number of those who reside in Auckland prisons, a group of volunteers have been faithfully leading ministry for the men. Among them are some of the Vinnies Youth collective who dedicate their Sunday mornings to leading a liturgy of the word. This involves a reflection on the Word for the day, as well as sharing in prayer and song.

Vinnies Youth Volunteers

The unfolding of this ministry is not possible without the guidance and support of the prison chaplaincy team at Mt Eden Corrections facility. This team has been pivotal in providing chaplaincy support for inmates; particularly when navigating times of family illnesses, deaths, crisis, tragedies and celebrations. Recently the Vinnies volunteers who lead ministry met with the chaplains to prepare for the year ahead. It is hoped that this team will continue to grow and live into the roles set before them.

Prison Chaplaincy Team Meet with Vinnies Volunteers

Making Meals for the Multitudes: Youth Volunteers make Foodparcels for Families

Many people can go to the supermarket and purchase the food they need, but not everyone can get enough healthy food easily. This is part of the issue of food insecurity. As such, a sense of insecurity can vary from family to family. In response to a growing need for nutritionous and filling meals within Auckland, a diverse group of volunteers have been assisting the Society of St Vincent de Paul with making bulk food parcels. Some of the volunteers have also assisted in the making of labels, restocking the foodbank and filling up shampoo and detergent bottles destined for families.

This assistance comes at a welcome time as the number of families seeking assistance has all but decreased since the end of a busy Christmas season in 2019. The volunteers have been a source of energy and enthusiasm as they have seen and filled a need within the community. It is hoped that the parcels which they have made will go a long way to making sure that fewer families go hungry this month.